Every vote counts. Roxanne Thalman defeated Marvin Sutton for a City Council seat by 3 votes in the runoff election which occurred 6/10/17. Lana Wolff was re-elected Councilwoman.
UTA Guest Speaker. Elva will be a guest speaker at UTA's School of Social Work class on Death & Dying taught by Dr. Bonnie Dockery on Thursday, 6/15/17.
Tips & Tricks
Free ID Bracelets. Elva said that she had checked wholesale prices from China (Alibaba) for stainless steel ID bracelets for people who might get lost or become unconscious and unable to tell first responders what the responder needs to know (where to take them home, medical condition, or whatever). But as an experiment, Elva printed out a laminated "label" on her Brother label printer to just see if it could be used for this purpose. She has been wearing the test label bracelet for over 3 weeks, through numerous baths, dog baths, dishwashing, lawn mowing, etc. and the "label" bracelet has not come undone nor faded. The sticky side lost its stickiness when I ran it under cold water the first time to see if the printing would smear/fade (it didn't). So if anybody would like to have a cheap-o label bracelet, Elva is happy to print several for you so you can put it on yourself or if you're a carer, (or know a neighbor who would like several of these) just ask. No cost, of course. Just email me what you would like printed on your bracelet and I will make 3 or 4 label bracelets for you to test and I can send them in the mail.
"Dutch Reach" Safety Trick. This is a trick first used in Holland and now lots of other places teach it to prevent cyclists (bicycles or motorcycles) from crashing into an opening door as you are exiting your car. All you do is use your hand furthest from the door handle to open the door which forces you to twist your body and gives you a clear look for any approaching cyclist. Here is a short video which demonstrates this simple safety technique. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzIf80eSfCg
Zillow "Paint Advice." Paint color can affect the Sales Price of your house. Elva shared some of the info regarding paint colors (interior/exterior/front door) of your home which can increase or decrease your selling price, according to Zillow's research. (Elva disclaimed any knowledge about the validity of this Zillow study.) More info at this link https://www.zillow.com/blog/blue-kitchens-sell-for-more-216631/
1:00 Hour - Projects for Ambassadors. We did a group exercise for members to voice opinion about which upcoming Projects would help the greatest number of seniors. The Ambassadors members were asked to think not just of themselves (active adults) and their own situation, but to think about others who are 10-20 years older and/or what their own needs might be 10-20 years from now. Here is the list of Projects, prioritized in the order that the members voted:
Universal Design Principles. New residential construction should be navigable by the greatest number of people, regardless of "ability" or "diff-ability," including someone in a wheelchair/scooter. At a minimum, new houses should require at least one no-step entrance, wide doorways/hallways, one bathroom on the main floor, backer boards behind the wallboard in bathrooms for easy installation later of grab bars, at least some counter tops at a level accessible by someone in a wheelchair with knee space to "roll under."
Affordable Housing. Various options should be explored. Wealthier people are able to find housing in senior "independent-living" complexes, assisted-living complexes, skilled-nursing facilities, and memory-care facilities. The issue is housing for people living on only limited Social Security and the next tier up (for example, people with incomes below $2,000 per month, and sometimes below $1,000/month). In a meeting that Elva had with Commissioner Andy Nguyen on 5/31/17, the Commissioner told Elva about the largest "affordable" senior-living developer in the nation called NRP Group https://www.nrpgroup.com/ which developed the Golden Bamboo Village apartments in Houston. Their 712 s.f. 1BR/1BA apartment starting rent is $276/month. http://bit.ly/2sBjIbT . Commissioner Nguyen mentioned that this particular apartment complex was built with the Vietnamese community in mind. Elva is looking into something like this for Arlington (or just outside our City limits) and will ask for help from our Housing Leader, Sandee Reutebuch, and others. Another possibility is "dome" houses. These small (314 s.f.) dome houses in Brenham, TX, rent for $160/week (rents due on Mondays) which equates to ~$688/month with all utilities included and there is always a wait list http://www.domeliving.com/the-inn-place . Elva showed a video of 314 s.f. domes (~100 of them in Italy, TX) and we know that seniors in a wheelchair would need a slightly larger dome (perhaps 500 s.f.). http://www.domeliving.com/ Note that Italy, TX and the Monolithic Dome Institute is only 50 miles from Arlington down Interstate 35 East through Waxahachie. Currently, they have a 6.5 month wait list. Anyone is welcome to "show up" there for a tour which Elva did on 6/1/17. David South, the world expert on dome housing spent 2 hours with Elva explaining domes and everything he has learned over the last 40 years of building them. He took Elva inside his own beautiful 2400 s.f. dome house (with additional separate dome 3-car garage) where he lives with his wife and where he reared his 3 children (who now run the day-to-day operations of the Monolithic Dome Institute). Elva met with the Architect who runs the "Construction Management" program at Tarrant County College/South Campus, James Howard, to ask why "dome houses" have not caught on in the U.S. even though they are "tornado proof" and pretty much "fireproof" because they're made of concrete. In other words, what is the "downside?" He said there isn't any downside except that financing is difficult because banks/real estate appraisers don't know how to appraise them because there are no "comparables" in the required distance of a real estate market so lenders are reluctant to lend money, even though the safety is superior and maintenance/energy costs are considerably lower than in a "stick built" house. Here is a link to a dome house, built as an experimental house by Dow Chemical in 1964 so it's 53 years old and still looks great. It has sold one time (2013) for $225,000. It's 3,400 s.f. and there are lots of photos of the interior here. http://bit.ly/2rnt89s
Employment. The group said that a way of identifying "age-friendly" local and/or online employers is needed. Also, it would be helpful for an "Ambassador Leader for Employment" (not yet appointed) to meet with local employers to be sure they understand the benefits of hiring older workers (there are many) and to encourage them to do so. The Leader will report back results to the group for posting on the Ambassadors' website.
Take Me Home program. Enables first responders to identify non-verbal persons (autistic, dementia/Alzheimer's) or non-English speakers who are lost (and who are enrolled in the Take Me Home program) to quickly return the person to where they belong. Elva has met with Sheriff Bill Waybourn and Commissioner Andy Nguyen about implementing this program throughout Tarrant County. Both expressed interest and agreed to look into it. Localities nearby who have already implemented the Take Me Home Program are Southlake, Plano, McKinney, Forney, and McLennan County (Waco).
Singing Chorus for Dementia. This community chorus would serve those with early to mid-stage dementia, their carers, and volunteers. The part of our brains which processes music is the last to be damaged by dementia, so sometimes even when a person can no longer speak a whole sentence, they can still sing and they still remember songs they learned when they were young. Shannon Layman, PhD, UTA Professor/Psychologist is working with us on this. The Pantego Lion's Club has generously agreed that we can use their beautiful building at 3535 Marathon (just off Pioneer Pkwy) for weekly rehearsals and occasional "performances." www.pantegolions.org/ Elva's friend who lives in Houston has formed a similar chorus there (they've had 10 weekly rehearsals so far) and the model chorus that she and I are emulating is called the "Giving Voice Chorus." A video about that chorus can be seen here www.youtube.com/watch?v=AszNeg9JJok
Task Matching Webpage. This page would enable seniors who have a need to post a need (transport to the doctor, companion-sitter while carer goes to the grocery store, someone to cook a meal, etc.) and volunteers can scan the needs and "sign up" to service that need. Obviously, not all needs will be met but it's a start. A similar idea is CarePages but that website is mostly for people with a serious illness who needs support/help (and no illness would be required for the Ambassadors' webpage). A website like this already exists...Elva just needs to find it again (not CarePages but similar...if you know what it is, please remind Elva because the link is buried in an email folder somewhere). https://www.carepages.com/
Telephone Reassurance. This would be an automated "wellness check" for people living alone who are fearful that they could fall ill or injure themselves and die at home before someone found them or treatment would be delayed because "nobody knows." There are several automated systems which should be evaluated. One is the RUOK system. wppd.org/programs/community-outreach-programs/are-you-ok-rogram/ This would entail conversations with the City of Arlington/City Council and a team will be appointed to schedule these conversations. Let Elva know if you'd like to help with this.
Walk for Health. This would be a scheduled weekly walk at various City parks, possibly with a contest/donated prizes from local businesses (no prizes for "speed" but possibly recognizing those walkers who participate in the most weekly walks after 6 months or some such). A team of volunteers will be appointed. Let Elva know if you'd like to help set this up.
Dine with Dignity. A basket of colored "poker chips" would be placed at the hostess stand/front counter of a restaurant and picked up by a dining party and placed on his/her table. This would alert the wait staff that someone at this table might need some extra time to order, help reading the menu, or special communication skills might be needed (someone with moderate/advanced dementia should not be asked open-ended questions such as "Are you having a good day today?"). Servers would need some basic education about how to interact with someone with dementia/Alzheimer's (video training).
Phone-a-Friend. This is a service that someone would sign up for who would like to have someone to talk to on the phone regularly (frequency can be decided by the parties). The Mid-Cities Care Group in Hurst provides a service like this with ~50 participants. http://midcitiescarecorps.org/2016/11/2218/ Perhaps Meals on Wheels would cooperate by telling their clients about this opportunity (background checks required). We will check that out and then ask for volunteers.
Phone App for Rating/Finding "Age-Friendly" Restaurants/Retailers. The establishment might have trained personnel, provide plenty of seating while waiting, generous space for wheelchairs, special discounts to seniors or "free dessert" or ...). This would be like "Yelp" but for Age-Friendly ratings. Here is a link to a similar app available in Canada. http://www.age-cap.com/
2:00 Hour - Special Guest Speaker Yoko Matsumoto. Ms. Matsumoto is Director of Libraries for the City of Arlington and she gave us a special virtual tour of the new main library which is going to be fabulous when it opens in May 2018. Elva especially likes the planned outdoor seating area, quiet spaces on 3rd floor, meeting rooms, big lobby area on first floor, audio loop system (T-coil, not infrared) for hearing impaired, WiFi areas, maker space with 3D printers, music recording/editing capabilities, etc. Some of our members complained about parking around the new library and where the crosswalks will be. Elva's opinion is that since she was not present at the planning meetings, it's unclear which of the amenities mentioned above would have to be sacrificed (maybe several) in order to pay for a skywalk across Center Street from the parking garage. She isn't convinced that she would give up any of the features mentioned in exchange for the skywalk. Plus, with our convenient branch libraries, we can always reserve books or other materials using the Library's online system and pick them up at the nearest branch library (or even at some elementary schools). Elva's opinion is it would be nice to be able to afford every convenience and amenity when designing a building but trade-offs are always necessary. (Elva was in the minority opinion on this, most probably.) I'm sure hard choices will have to be made regarding the new "Senior Activity Center" when the time comes. Ms. Matsumoto left the meeting with a clear understanding about why seniors (especially) do not like the parking planned around the new Library. She took the complaints in stride, thanked everyone for being so "direct" and promised to carry the group's comments back to the other decision makers beyond herself.